Each gloriously different part of it, together, makes up my island home. What gives me the right to claim a stake in every corner of it?
I believe that right is integral for every resident of this land. But, for what it’s worth, the family from which I am descended came to Scotland around 800 years ago. A few hundred years later a branch of it broke off and ventured to Ireland, first to the south and then, the sub-branch with which I am most connected, to the north, to Limavady.
A marriage union established a sub-sub-branch in Wales at Fishguard, whom my father used to regularly visit as a young man. Then in the late 1800s my great-grandfather was involved in a scandal which resulted in him leaving Ireland. My grandfather, thus, was brought as a very small boy to England where the family has remained ever since. I have roots therefore in all parts of what we call the Union, my longest connection being in Scotland, my least in England. I would suggest that links of this kind are extremely common in this island.
My right to move and live in any part of this land is for me a right that I and every other British citizen was born with, one that I do not believe any other Islander has the right to remove. Because I live in London I do not OWN, nor can I, even if I wanted to, deny entry to any other member of our country, any more than I believe a native of the Highlands has the right to put conditions on my coming and spending time in that bit of heaven.
I believe also that the proposal to its residents that they should split Scotland from the rest of the island is based on two false premises. The first is that those living in Scotland are constantly outweighed in government by the larger group living in England. There is no such thing as a homogenous entity called England. That geographical area is divided up into at least six groupings each with a very definite character, tradition, and outlook from the North - itself divided into major regions, Cumbria, Northumberland, Yorkshire, Lancashire – to the Midlands, East Anglia, London, the South and the West.
Within that melting pot, Scotland and Wales, taken as homogenous blocs, must be among the most influential of the partners in the Union. Or should Scotland not really be viewed as one homogenous bloc?
Could, indeed, the 50.1% of the electorate that would authorise a breakaway claim to be the Voice of Scotland? The disastrous precedent set by David Cameron in, by default, allowing a simple majority to settle matters of fundamental national importance, instead of the age-old tradition of a two thirds majority requirement, could be said to have been the architect of some of the most troublesome problems we have had to face since.
The two thirds majority rule in respect of proposed changes to a constitution, which is deployed to avoid transitory and superficial sentiment and ensure stability for a generation, is employed by the vast majority of all constitution-based organisations.
Is anything less than this fundamental safeguard acceptable in respect of a decision of such magnitude and permanence that will affect the lives of so many millions, not just those now resident in Scotland?
The second false premise is that Scotland will obtain ‘independence’ by splitting from the existing union. Independence from what? Independence indeed from its immediate neighbours of Cumbria, Northumbria and Yorkshire, with whom it shares a language and millennia of association and intermingling. In exchange for what? For a Scotland free to pursue exclusively Scottish interests? Hardly. It comes in exchange for the stated policy of rejoining and submerging sovereignty within a bloc of nearly 30 nations, with many of whom it has had to date almost no dealings whatever.
If Scotland feels marginalised in having its voice heard and its interests accounted for in the association it has shared with the other residents of the island of Britain, how loud does it feel its voice will be heard on its own in a bloc of 28 countries and a population of some 447 million people?
In the Brexit vote, I and most of London voted to stay in Europe. I passionately opposed, however, subsequent attempts to justify a re-vote. Swallowing the bitter pill of a vote that has gone against your hopes is the price of living in a democracy. Attention and energy should instead be directed to working for and through the situation to reach a desirable future. My view and hope is that at some time in the future Britain will rejoin a hopefully reformed and open-minded European Union, one which is, most importantly, freed from its current obsessive fetish of creating a Super-State with powers transferred from individual countries to a fully centralised parliament.
In the event of the people of the individual states themselves demanding closer union, then the moment has arrived; a Europe with a completely transformed, transparent, audited, and fit for purpose administration to replace the appalling bloated bureaucracy currently directing the system.
We are a nation in this island. We have an overwhelming majority of shared values. Our world outlook and global contribution has been formed by centuries of association together. Let us continue to combine our strengths to forge and find our way to play our part in the world while serving the best interests of this island as a whole.